Friday, July 19, 2019

Shaver's Derro: Insidious Threat are Amongst Us!

Man, teh U.S. is getting pretty weird. Rather than reflect on how we Americans got here, you know, do some soul searching, take responsibility for our long national fuckup, or whatever, I'd like to take this opportunity to blow the lid off the vast, Der(r)o conspiracy and really send your minds and panties into a twist. Of course, this stuff was common knowledge a mere 50 or 60 odd years ago and it goes to show you that the American attention span has

Stefan Poag's comic about the Dero on Shaverton is an amazing read!
This'll be chock full of Seriously Gameable Content, and it can appeal to erryone, even the tits-blood-and-weiners LoTFP crowd. You could dial the weiners down from like 6 to 2 on the dial and it would still stay gameable for OSRthusiasts like you, Dear Reader!

Dero (Small/Medium Demihuman Abomination)
No. Appearing: 1d6 (2d100 in lair)
Armor Class: 5 (14)
Hit Dice: 2d6
In Lair % 15
Treasure Type: I
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: Claw (1d4) Bite (1d4) or special
Special attacks:none
Special defenses: Immune to sleep and disease
Magic resistance: 20%
Intelligence: High to genius
Alignment: Neutral evil
Size: small to medium (4-6 feet in height)
Psionic ability:120
Attack/Defense modes: B,F/H (an alternate psionics systems might include Mind Blast or the equivalent)

(for DCC: Will Save -4, Fortitude Save +4, Reflex -2)

Dero are the degenerate scions of a once-great race of inter-dimensional beings who inhabited the Aereth. They are perverse, sadistic, and spiteful and work to bring civilization down wherever they are found. They often capture humans and demihumans to torture and murder, committing unspeakable depravities on their victims and casually discarding the remains. They each have Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, and Handle Poisons as a 2HD Thief

For every 5 Dero encountered, one will be of higher rank (+1 HD) and this larger specimen will carry d6 (1-2) a Telaug, (3-4) a Benray, or (5-6) a Stim Machine. Other magical items encountered as treasure will be of sophisticated technological nature whilst still providing standard magical effects. They enjoy using hateful pistols, whips, and jagged swords (sometimes poisoned!) to inflict the pain and suffering they relish. If a small group of more than 3 Dero are encountered, it is 60% likely they will have a human or demihuman captive or slave. Larger groups and lairs will always have a 20% proportional population of malnourished and mistreated victims in undergoing varying states of hard labor, torture, and other much worse depravities.

The Telaug is a device for projecting audio and visual stimuli, and for subtly manipulating victims' thought processes. A random selection of 1d4 illusionist spells of first to third level can be simulated via the use of the machine, as well as telepathic communication.

The Benray is a healing device that has 1-8 charges when found. 1 charge will replicate the effects of a potion of healing. 3 charges will bestow cure poison. 4 charges will bestow regeneration or cure disease. When the device is out of charges it is useless and grows dim.

The Stim Machine increases feelings of pleasure and pain, but in combat can be used to overwhelm a victim with temporary damage. If struck by the pale green ray of a stim machine, physical sensations will be nearly overwhelming and unless a save vs. death ray is made, all successful attacks will do triple damage that will heal immediately after combat ends. The Dero use this ray to subdue combatants and to magnify enjoyment of their own hedonist frenzies. Repeated use will cause insanity and physical degeneracy up to and including mutations. For this reason, Dero are highly variable in appearance and large groups will always have a small proportion of physically mutated variants (brightly colored skin, wings, multi-faceted eyes, elephantine trunks).

Interspace Activator: The Interspace Activator allows users - almost invariably the Dero, for they will seek out and destroy any non-Dero that acquires one - to come and go from the "Interspace" wherein the Dero commit their atrocities. When activated, a door, panel, or hatch will be suddenly found where none was before. This opening will allow access to a space between the spaces of dungeons, for example in the rocky vastnesses that make up walls and caverns. These spaces are dim, decrepit, nondescript, littered with spent technology and trash, and sometimes hold escaped victims and roving Dero on errands. In this way the Dero move amongst the populations of each age, causing havoc and unhappiness, occasionally admitting particularly greedy or perverted sentients into their conspiracy to acquire slaves and destabilize societies everywhere. The use of an Interspace Activator will not always provide non-Dero with stable recurring environments, and it is very likely (70%) that temporal fluctuations will cause aging (1-10 years) and/or disease in non-Dero users. Further, when found, the device will have 1-6 charges and running out of charges whilst in Interspace may cause stranding with no hope of release unless another device is captured. Note that a recharger is usually only found in large lairs of Dero. It is rumored that far, far below the surface of the planet, a vast city complex of Dero sports markets where humanoid flesh is purveyed and chambers wherein the downfall of races is plotted in darkness.

Find Stefan's comic here. Warning Not Work Safe, probably

Also, Stefan's website is here

More about Shaver here and also, be advised the ramblings of his lunatic mind (or maybe truths) influenced modern culture WAAAAAY more than you were previously aware. You're about to go down a rabbit hole if you're not careful.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Irritating Problem of Shared-Walls Dungeon Maps

When I was a wee lad, let us say in the summer of '83 or '84, maybe, it was at that time in my life that I had been introduced to D&D and found in it a very useful tool for avoiding the tedium of day-to-day earthly life. Also, the Atari 2600 and my favorite game Adventure. Maybe a couple of others.

I also discovered graph paper, almost accidentally, and since I'd had a couple of modules in my collection my brain lit up like a Christmas tree! AHA I could make some dungeons, too, but what really happened was that I - maybe in an unhealthy way - would just draw mazes on the graph paper OVER AND OVER AND OVER and then give them to my grandparents who (godsblessum) were like non-plussed but cooperative. And they solved them, agreeably, and so I had to escalate the process, and I would put in rooms with treasure, and then traps, and the occasional monster and so what you would get is a lot like what we would call a dungeon these days, but pretty MAZE-y. I recall hours upon hours of sweaty NW Florida afternoons laboring over whether the squares were too similar, or maybe the paths were too linear, or whatever a young guy would have gotten into before he'd discovered other kinds of masturbatory exercises. Pretty soon, I burned out the pad of graph paper or found myself stymied or maybe I discovered the piano in the clubhouse room near the pool and tried to figure out how to play LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART. Maudlin.
Literally the same cover as the one I toiled at. You can find anything.

Anyways, maybe a year or two later, the Gold Box adventures (pool of radiance etc) and another favorite of mine TELENGARD came out on the c64 and we - my buddies and me - were into these day long affairs of maze-maze-maze-kill-kill-kill-maze-maze-maze and hey! who's to say it wasn't great? Not me, that's for sure! But I think I'd learned my lesson in terms of tedious mazes and I got to be irritated by the "Shared Wall" phenomenon. That is, when you use graph paper to make mazes the way I did, and you make them dense, the way I did, naturally your Grandad is gonna be like "Oh Man I just Drill Through This and Head For The Exit". The cheater.

Now - you cannot pull this sort of trick on a C64 - the in-game physics don't allow for Passwall or Dimension Door or whathave-you. So - always you're going to be presented with the spooky anxiety of SHIT MAYBE THEY WILL JUST CHOOSE TO DIG, OR HACK, OR ZAP THEIR WAY THROUGH THIS B

So, I drifted away to the more "moderner" way of doing it, which is to say I separate, now, my hallways and my walls so that there are no shared walls in there to dig through, or maybe a Xorn could do it or Purple Worm or something but not a hard-scrabble group of murderhobos.

But, Like, Why, Man? My grandpa is D-E-D (godsblessum) and I would applaud any party of miners who could pull of a feat like I've described. These little pencil lines on the graph paper in no way represent a adamantine/plascrete/duralloy surface. I guess they could. They're walls in the Mythic Underworld, bro! My old penchant for doodling twisty little passages (all alike) in between special treasure filled rooms is retrospectively LEGIT

Let us consider that on a piece of graph paper wherein one square = 10', then the line that represents a wall if you draw it that way is like perfect for your average interior wall in an office building which may really be like 8 inches thick but if an office was a dungeon (it kinda really is a DUNGEON comrades!) then any able-bodied murder hobo would skip all the traps and locks and stuck doors and just break those fucking walls the eff down. And you should let them! And all the monsters will come running and then the PCs will be eaten and maybe the next batch of PCs is not quite as dense.

I been noodling around with a system I stole from some OSR-type guys to make a long stretch of maze more logistically doable at the table. Frankly, a pen n paper tracing of the route is anticlimactic and further allows the viewing of my TOP SEKRIT MAP and so that's a no-no. This procedure uses a deck of cards and the players using PC skill or player knowledge to get through a set number of cards in order to exit the labyrinth. It's pretty clever (sadly I dint think of it) and ripe for hacking... Make a couple of awesome stretches of geomorphs interspersed with some procedural-simulated mazes which get easier with travelling and cost light/food/water/etc.? Now we're talking some Mythic Underworld.

Anyways, a paper-thin wall is not a barrier unless they agree it is. Or, unless it's made of very stern fantasy-type stuff.

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